Vucic:Serbia will continue it’s European path
Nikos Arvanites, Belgrade
The election results illustrate a strong support for democracy, reforms, international commitments and EU integration, leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday evening.
At a press conference in the SNS headquarters after the release of the preliminary election results, Vucic said citizens had again placed their trust in the party to lead the Serbian government.
“I am so proud and deeply touched by the results, they mean we have been given the trust but also a huge responsibility. I know which way we should go to secure Serbia's future and how hard we should work to arrive there,” Vucic said.
He thanked all citizens who had cast their ballot on Sunday, especially the people from the SNS-led list who had conducted a fair, responsible and serious campaign.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s Progressive Party won a majority in parliament in snap elections on Sunday, securing a new four-year term to overhaul the economy and lead the country closer to the European Union.
The prime minister has pledged to continue an economic overhaul endorsed by the International Monetary Fund to end state support of unprofitable companies, shrink the public administration, and liberalize markets in the country of 7.2 million people. With his party’s result close to the 48.8 percent it won in 2014, Vucic overcame resurgent nationalist candidates, including Seselj, who advocated shunning the EU and boosting ties with Russia. He also defeated other parties who want to halt an austerity drive.
“Serbia will continue it’s European path,” Vucic said after declaring victory at his party’s headquarters in Belgrade. “We’ll try to accelerate it, but we will also maintain our traditional ties with Russia and China, and of course the United States.”
The election victory gives Vucic, 46, a chance to implement reforms that will probably hurt his popularity in the short term but that the IMF sees necessary to eventually create jobs and improve living standards.
One of Europe’s poorest countries, Serbia has an unemployment rate exceeding 18 percent, and its average take-home wage is $407 a month. Vucic also wants to prepare Serbia for EU entry by 2020 to follow former Yugoslav partners Slovenia and Croatia, which joined in 2004 and 2013.
Opposition leaders complained of voting irregularities, with Sasa Radulovic, the leader of the Enough is Enough party, saying it would check every ballot. Critics of Vucic have complained that his consolidation of power, while bringing some economic change, is threatening democracy. His detractors say he has suppressed media, while the EU’s executive commission, in a report last year, said Serbia had made no progress in improving freedom of expression and hadn’t addressed recommendations to ensure campaign finances and electoral processes are transparent.
Vucic has said he will form a coalition even if he wins an outright majority, as he did in the 2014 elections, to have broader support for his reform agenda.
“The new government will have to accelerate reforms after elections, since the program stalled this year,” said Dan Bucsa, an analyst at UniCredit Bank AG in London. “This contrasts with last year, when the fiscal adjustment -- benefiting also from some low-hanging fruit -- was impressive.”
Serbian bonds have benefited under Vucic who, under a three-year IMF deal, has cut public wages and pensions and almost halved the budget deficit to 3.7 percent of gross domestic product last year. The yield on Serbian dollar bonds maturing in 2021 traded at 4.525 percent in Belgrade on Friday, compared with 5.593 percent before Vucic’s March 2014 election victory. The dinar, which has weakened over the same period from 116.012 per euro, traded little changed at 122.858.
Almost two decades after the bloody wars that tore apart former Yugoslavia, Serbia is one of Europe’s last ex-communist nations to embark on a wide-scale overhaul of its economy, long after others including the Czech Republic and neighboring Hungary made the switch to a market-based approach. With purchasing power at 37 percent of the EU average in 2014, the country has promised the IMF to rid the public balance sheet of more than 500 money-losing state-owned companies that sap as much as $1 billion from the budget a year.
Vucic gambled the 158 seats he controlled in the 250-seat parliament before the vote at a time when 42 percent of Serbs believe their country is heading in the wrong direction. That was more than the 38 percent who think it’s on a positive path, according to a poll this month from the Center for free Elections and Democracy.
Vucic said his new government will stick with with its $1.2 billion IMF precautionary agreement and restructuring state companies.
“Then, Serbia will be on the right path,” he said.
CeSID: SNS wins, three parties close to making it to parl't
The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won the early parliamentary elections in Serbia, and the new parliament could comprise seven parties, as three parties are hovering around the election threshold of five percent, Program Director of the Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID) Djordje Vukovic at the last press conference on Sunday.
He said CeSID could not do a final projection, as the things were changing minute by minute.
Based on over 82 percent of processed ballots, the SNS won 49.9 percent of the vote, the SPS -11.6 percent, the SRS - 7.8 percent, the DS -5.9 percent, Enough is Enough- 5.2 percent, the SDS-LDP-LSV and the Dveri-DSS coalitions - 5 percent each, he said.
As for the elections for the provincial assembly, the SNS secured 45.1 percent, the SPS- 8.8 percent, the DS- 8 percent, the SRS- 7.2 percent, the SVM-6.5 percent, the LSV- 6.1 percent, Enough is Enough - 4.1 percent, the SDS-LDP - 3 percent, Dveri-DSS 3 percent of the vote.
Another group of election monitors, CRTA, announced that the turnout by 19:00 CET had been 53.1 percent. CeSID said the turnout at that time was 52.9 percent.
CRTA also announced first estimates, based on a 62 percent sample, that showed the SNS list take 52.95 percent, followed by the SPS (12.14 percent), the SRS (7.48 percent), the DS (5.82 percent), the DSS-Dveri (4.78 percent)m the LDP-SDS-LSV (4.9 percent), and Enough is Enough (3.98 percent).
Early parliamentary elections were this Sunday in Serbia, along with local, and elections for the Vojvodina Provincial Assembly.
8,378 polling stations - 29 of which in prisons, 90 in Kosovo, and 38 abroad - opened at 07:00 CET and closed at 20:00 CET, with 6,739,441 citizens eligible to vote.
Representatives of the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) told their first press conference on Sunday morning that parliamentary elections were taking place according to all domestic laws and international and democratic standards.
3,270 candidates on 20 electoral lists, six of which representing minorities, were competing to win one of 250 seats in Serbia's National Assembly. 1,687 domestic and 196 foreign observers were monitoring the voting today.
Serbians were also casting their ballots in 17 Belgrade municipalities, and 138 other municipalities and 25 cities across the country.
Elections were not held today for the City Assembly in Belgrade, nor for that in Zajecar. Municipalities of Arandjelovac, Bor, Vrbas, Kovin, Kosjeric, Lucani, Majdanpek, Medvedja, Mionica, Negotin, Odzaci and Pecinci were also not going to the polls as they held elections on various dates from 2013 until 2015.
15 electoral lists were competing for 150 seats in the Vojvodina Provincial Assembly.
Election silence remained in effect until the closing of the polling stations this evening. It meant that election campaign and party propaganda was forbidden, along with public rallies, and publishing of any estimates of the results of the voting.
Media could report on the locations where candidates and other officials and politicians have voted, but could carry their statements given on the occasion until 20:00 CET.
These were the 20 electoral lists in the early parliamentary election, in order in which they appeared on the ballot papers:
ALEKSANDAR VUCIC – SERBIA IS WINNING 250 candidates
FOR A JUST SERBIA – DEMOCRATIC PARTY (NOVA, DSHV, ZZS) 246 candidates
IVICA DACIC – “Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), United Serbia (JS) – Dragan Markovic Palma” 250 candidates
Dr VOJISLAV SESELJ - SERBIAN RADICAL PARTY 250 candidates
DVERI – DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF SERBIA – SANDA RASKOVIC IVIC - BOSKO OBRADOVIC 240 candidates
Vajdasagi Magyar Szovetseg - Pasztor Istvan - Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians - Istvan Pasztor 250 candidates
BORIS TADIC, CEDOMIR JOVANOVIC – ALLIANCE FOR A BETTER SERBIA – Liberal Democratic Party, League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, Social Democratic Party 250 candidates
MUAMER ZUKORLIC – BOSNIAK DEMOCRATIC COMMUNITY OF SANDZAK 99 candidates
SDA Sandzak - Dr Sulejman Ugljanin 29 candidates
For Free Serbia – ZAVETNICI – Milica Djurdjevic 66 candidates
Civic Group FOR THE REVIVAL OF SERBIA – PROF. DR SLOBODAN KOMAZEC 186 candidates
RUSSIAN PARTY – SLOBODAN NIKOLIC 55 candidates
Republican Party - Republicánus párt – Nikola Sandulovic 131 candidates
SERBO-RUSSIAN MOVEMENT – SLOBODAN DIMITRIJEVIC 200 candidates
Borko Stefanovic – Serbia for All of Us 190 candidates
DIALOGUE – YOUTH WITH A STANCE – STANKO DEBELJAKOVIC 50 candidates
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – SASA RADULOVIC 250 candidates
PARTY OF DEMOCRATIC ACTION – ARDITA SINANI PARTIA PER VEPRIM DEMOKRATIK - ARDITA SINANI 8 candidates
GREEN PARTY 106 candidates
IN DEFIANCE – UNITED FOR SERBIA – PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE 164 candidates